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Close Developer Candidates Faster with this Chart on What Candidates Really Want

Written By Ritika Trikha | April 30, 2018

Finally---after months of searching---you find the right candidate, your team has thoroughly vetted them, and everyone on the interview panel is a “yes.” Now, it’s the home stretch. It’s time to seal the deal.

In a market where some top developers are struggling to keep up with job offers, what’s the most effective way to convince your candidate to choose you? 

  • Most people pitch the impact of the work that the candidate would have. Candidates often hear phrases like: Each line of code you write has the potential to impact X many people.
  • Or, at smaller companies, it goes something like:
    You’ll be able to help shape the product and help build the future of Y.
  • And, depending on where the candidate is in his or her career:
    There’s a lot of opportunity for growth.

And all of these qualities are undoubtedly important. But, since everyone is pitching the same attributes, it can be a lot harder for you to stand out. And, when you drill down into what’s most important to developers, there’s actually something missing here.

When we asked over 39,000 developers what they look for in a company when job searching, it turns out, none of these factors topped the list for professionals with over 2 years of experience.

Infographic on what developers value when evaluating companies to work at

Full list of what developers want (you can filter by country)

By and large----professional developers (with at least 2 years of experience) care most about work-life balance when job searching, slightly above professional growth and even compensation. Work-life balance remained the top result for 15 out of the 17 countries represented in the survey, and at least among the top 2 most desired qualities across countries. When we drilled down by company size, work-life balance was slightly less important to people working at smaller companies, though it was still in the top three.  

It's worth noting, strong work-life balance is also linked to higher employee retention rates. It’s logical: Developers who are happier, well-balanced are more likely to produce stronger output and results.

If you’re having trouble hiring developers faster, determine if work-life balance is a pain point for your candidates early in the recruiting process. Then, team up with your hiring manager to have a conversation about work-life balance: What are the creative ways that your company can enhance work-life balance for your technical team, and how much of that comes through in your candidate’s experience?

What is work-life balance?

Work-life balance could mean a lot of things to different people. So, we dug a bit deeper into what developers really want.  And it’s not a matter of taking more vacations. Of the folks who said work-life balance was the most important part of their company or job search, most agree they really don’t want to be chained to their desks.

Developers want to work for companies that build a highly trusting, communicative, and well-rounded working culture, which are the underlying pillars in establishing:

#1 Flexible Work Hours

Originally pioneered by Henry Ford to help maximize productivity from factory workers, the 9am-5pm framework doesn’t really work for developers. A body in a chair at a computer for eight hours at a designated time doesn't translate into increased productivity. If your current policy requires developers to come in at a set standard time, it may be worth questioning why? For many developers, starting work at 11am and working late into the evening is commonplace.  

One big reason why developers value flexibility is that distractions are compounding costly. When someone swings by and starts an impromptu chat, for instance, it takes around an average of 30 minutes for developers to get back to coding after they’ve been interrupted. It’s why most makers notoriously dislike meetings. Flexible hours can help developers set clear times to work in flow. And work when they’re the most productive.

#2 Remote Working

Remote working is a particularly strong desire for developers 25 and older. And, overall, it’s steadily been on the rise. According to a Gallup poll, 43 percent of Americans did some or all of their work from home in 2016 compared to 39 percent in 2012. In the Bay Area, for instance, working from home at least part of the time has grown out of necessity as the housing market has resulted in increasingly longer commutes for workers.

SF Gate reported: A decade ago, the city's share of "super commuters" — those with daily commute times over 90 minutes — was considerably lower. The population of super commuters in the city grew by 112.7 percent between 2005 and 2016, according to a study of U.S. Census data compiled by Apartment List.

If you offer remote working, post your jobs on the following remote working job sites to boost your visibility among developers who value work-life balance in the form of remote working:

#3 Focus on Outcomes

The first two aspects of work-life balance discussed thus far come with a host of challenges, like achieving free-flowing communication, maintaining alignment on goals, overcoming any isolation that comes with flexibility, boosting collaboration, and more bluntly: Approval of workplace policies.

So, here’s a simpler start. Even if your company’s leadership simply isn’t designed around the first two forms of work-life balance, the third most important characteristic is adaptable to any manager. Rewarding based on outcomes, instead of input, can help empower developers with the ability to set their own boundaries.

This is more of a managerial strategy than anything else, but it’s worth highlighting this managerial philosophy...even in your job demonstrate that developers can thrive based on the impact of their work, not just the hours worked. Focusing on outcomes requires deep trust that can only come as a result of a positive work environment.

Bottom Line

Work-life balance is not a quick fix---it requires a transformation of the engineering team to create a culture of trust, communication, and creative collaboration. But maybe that’s the point.

If you're having trouble winning over developer candidates, then a commitment to investing in flexibility ( the #1 thing developers look for) could be a strategic shift. The larger point beyond workplace policies is developers really want to work for empowering managers who reward strong results and not just who’s working the most hours.

Given the overwhelming response by over 39,000 developers who so clearly value work-life balance, it’s worth considering that the benefits of work-life balance on both attracting, hiring, and keeping developers.



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